9 January 2023

Lessons for the Next War

By Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Anne-Marie Slaughter, David Petraeus, Lee Hsi-min, Graham Allison, Rose Gottemoeller, Elisabeth Braw, Craig Singleton, Chris Krebs, Tai Ming Cheung, Maria Shagina, Mauro Gilli, and Vance Serchuk

Predictions about the future of war follow narratives and intellectual fashions. At the beginning of the millennium, the emergence of high-tech drones—the U.S. military’s all-seeing eyes in Afghanistan—fueled futuristic visions of battles contested by robots and computers. By the mid-2010s, the success of Russian information operations, election interference, and weaponized corruption in Europe and the United States had given rise to the idea that even a major country could be controlled without the use of force. Others thought that mutual dependence on trade and commerce in a globalized age would render a major war unlikely—or keep it locally contained.

The outbreak of the largest and most brutal European war since 1945 has once again reminded us not to project our wishful thinking or extrapolate from the past. So much of what pundits, politicians, and journalists predicted in the early hours of Russia’s three-pronged attack on Ukraine was wrong: that Russia’s military machine would be overwhelming, that Ukraine would quickly collapse, and that the West’s response would be weak. Those were just the first surprises. Who’d have thought trenches and artillery would feature so prominently in a 21st-century war?

Drawing the right lessons from the first 10 months of the Russian invasion, then, not only matters for the survival of Ukraine. It is also vital for deterring and preventing a future conflict—and, if necessary, fighting one. The most obvious potential hot spot and one that involves even greater stakes is, of course, Taiwan. Yet for every parallel between Russia’s designs on Ukraine and China’s on Taiwan, there is a difference. Taiwan is a small island, whereas Ukraine is the second-largest country on the European landmass. China is a large and technologically sophisticated adversary, whereas most of us have been stunned to see how technologically, organizationally, and tactically unsophisticated the Russian military really is. Some of the lessons emerging from Ukraine will therefore be only marginally relevant. Others should be quite useful.

ISKP Attack on Chinese Nationals in Kabul Unleashes Wave of Anti-Chinese Jihadist Propaganda

Lucas Webber

On December 12, Islamic State (IS) militants assaulted Chinese nationals and Taliban officials inside a Kabul hotel. IS’s Amaq News Agency claimed the attack shortly afterwards and eventually released photos and a video of the attackers while claiming that IS in Khorasan Province (ISKP) fighters raided “a big hotel frequented by Chinese diplomats and businessmen” (Twitter/@abdsayedd, December 13). The attackers used guns, grenades, and explosives as seen in its visual propaganda, which IS said killed or wounded over 30 people (Twitter/@war_noir, December 12).

The hotel attack prompted a surge of anti-Chinese propaganda by both official and pro-IS sources in several different languages and across various social media and messaging platforms. In fact, the hotel raid spurred a uniquely high volume and diversity of propaganda production from IS and pro-IS media networks. Such a response indicates the attack represented something of a release valve for pent-up anti-China sentiment held by IS and its supporters in the Khorasan region and beyond.

Islamic State’s Official Coverage of the Attack

IS published an editorial about the hotel operation and Chinese oppression of Muslims in issue 369 of its official al-Naba newsletter on December 15 (Twitter/@LucasADWebber, December 15). It also included a section with photos of the attackers and the burning hotel alongside an explainer about the operation in a separate infographic, which detailed the casualties and damage inflicted during the assault (Twitter/@Natsecjeff, December 16). The article noted that the “issue of the Uyghurs Muslims is one that has received wide outcry over the last few years in Muslim and Islamist circles… [but] sadly these campaigns were no more than words and images” (Jihadology, December 15). In contrast to those who simply talk about China’s policies in Xinjiang, IS “sought fastidiously to put its threats towards China into action on the ground” by successfully striking a “Chinese hotel” and “initiating the journey of vengeance.” This language portends future ISKP attacks against Chinese interests and nationals.

Après Twitter, the Deluge?

Rishi Iyengar

On the day in mid-November when Elon Musk told Twitter’s remaining employees to commit to being “hardcore” or leave, Mayank Bidawatka landed in San Francisco on a one-way ticket and checked into an Airbnb downtown.

Bidawatka, the co-founder of Indian social media app Koo, was there to cash in on the disarray inside Musk’s Twitter.

“It’s just so erratic and chaotic. With every new tweet [from Musk], some new thing happens,” he said in an interview with Foreign Policy soon after arriving in the city. “I think we deserve a chance to be heard. I think we deserve a chance to be tried.”

China’s Shift on ‘Zero Covid’

By Daisuke Wakabayashi and Claire Fu

Since China dramatically reversed course and loosened its zero-tolerance approach to Covid last week, Beijing has gone all out to convince the public that it can weather the potential risks of lifting restrictions and still put the world’s second-largest economy back on track.

Its once bleak prognostications have turned downright optimistic: Covid-19 is entering the “last stage” and will soon become a manageable seasonal illness, said one of China’s leading voices on the coronavirus. The virus’s spread will peak in a month, predicted another prominent Chinese epidemiologist. A top state TV news anchor declared that “we are on the road” to ending the crisis, with the latest Covid variants less dangerous and officials saying the country’s medical preparedness will protect against the most catastrophic outcomes.

Despite those assurances, China faces much uncertainty over how the coming months will play out. Information is opaque and unreliable, which will make it difficult to gauge Beijing’s handling of the coming wave of Covid infections. The government’s desire to save face after an embarrassing retreat from its hallmark pandemic policy will only muddy the picture.

Already, there are signs that China is leveraging propaganda to reinforce its message that the situation is under control. And absent a reliable flow of information, businesses and investors from outside the country are left to speculate on just how long it will take for the economy to recover.

Looking Ahead to 2023 by Looking Back

Stephen M. Walt

Before I got too far into 2023, I decided to look back to see if 2022 had gone according to my expectations. In my last column of 2021, I described “Biden’s 2022 Foreign-Policy To-Do List.” What did I get right, what did I get wrong, and how well did the Biden administration perform?

1. China and Taiwan. My first prediction—that “we won’t see a serious crisis or military confrontation over Taiwan in 2022”—was correct. Tensions rose slightly in response to outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s ill-advised visit there in August, but cooler heads prevailed and both Beijing and Washington subsequently decided to lower the temperature for the moment. This decision isn’t surprising, as both Beijing and Washington have pretty full plates. Thus far, at least, the Biden administration seems to be getting away with its undeclared economic war on China, but whether its campaign will succeed remains to be seen. U.S. allies in Asia (and Europe) aren’t happy with export controls on advanced chip technology or the protectionist elements of the administration’s broader economic program, and that could be an opportunity for China. Looking ahead, I’m still confident that peace will prevail in East Asia in 2023.

2. Ukraine. I got this one wrong, but only in part. Writing in late December 2021, I predicted Russia would not invade. I wasn’t 100 percent certain, however, and said that if Moscow did invade, I expected it to launch a “limited aims” incursion focused primarily on the Donbas, most likely leading to a “frozen conflict” similar to the situation in Georgia. Why did I think so? Because a limited campaign would be “less likely to provoke a strong and unified response from the West.” A limited incursion would also put President Joe Biden (and NATO) in a “no-win” situation, because there was “little appetite [in the U.S.] for a shooting war in an area far away from the United States and right next door to Russia.” I thought Russian President Vladimir Putin understood that a large-scale invasion would trigger fierce Ukrainian resistance and create a “costly running sore Moscow could ill afford.”

Iran’s Uprising and the TikTok Generation


Thousands of Iranian students of varying ages have joined the ongoing protests in Iran that were sparked by the brutal September killing of the young Kurdish-Iranian woman, Jina Mahsa Amini. While protests have included participation from diverse segments of the population, the fearless attitude of Iranian youth, in particular, has been highlighted in countless videos circulated on social media. Iranian officials have claimed that the average age of arrested protesters is 15, and since September, at least 58 minors have been killed.

The hypocrisy of the governing system in Iran has haunted Iranians since the early years of the Revolution. Yet, members of the immediate post-Revolution generation were exposed to the world primarily through two state-owned television channels. This generation experienced the austerity of the Iran-Iraq war period directly, and was influenced by frightened parents who considered silence the best strategy to survive.

The TikTok generation of Iran, however, has a different degree of connectivity via the internet, which has allowed them to formulate different world views and expectations for their lives. Despite frequent regime restrictions on social media platforms, the use of virtual private networks (VPNs) is common, and it has been estimated that there are 24 million Instagram users in Iran. Sarina Esmailzadeh, a 16-year-old TikTok and Instagram creator who was beaten to death by security forces during protests, was part of this new generation. In an Instagram video, she said: “. . . We’ve also seen those in Los Angeles enjoying life to the fullest, and it’s only natural that as a human you would look onto the better option.”

Iran and Russia Are Closer Than Ever Before

By Robbie Gramer

In the first two days of 2023, evidence of a newfound friendship between Russia and Iran was on full display across the war-battered cities of Ukraine in the form of downed kamikaze drones.

More than 80 Iranian-made drones launched by the Russian military were shot down over Ukraine in that 48-hour period, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said, the latest sign of how two of the world’s biggest pariah states are deepening their alliance in the face of increasing international isolation and worsening economic woes.

Russia and Iran have formed a partnership of convenience against Western powers for decades, but that relationship has historically been tinged by an undercurrent of distrust and wariness, experts said.

Videos show both sides of US-China aerial encounter – and highlight the risks involved

Brad Lendon

CNN — The interception of a United States Air Force reconnaissance jet by a Chinese fighter over the South China Sea last month should be seen as a potential warning of how easily, and quickly things can go terribly wrong – raising the risk of a deadly military confrontation between the two powers, analysts say.

The incident in question occurred on December 21 over the northern part of the South China Sea in what the US says was international airspace.

Performing what the US military deemed an “unsafe maneuver,” a Chinese navy J-11 fighter jet flew within 20 feet of the nose of a US RC-135 Rivet Joint, an unarmed reconnaissance plane with about 30 people on board, forcing the US plane to take “evasive maneuvers to avoid a collision,” according to a statement from the US Indo-Pacific Command issued on December 28.

It released a video of the incident showing the Chinese fighter flying to the left of and slightly above the four-engine US jet, similar to the Boeing 707 airliners of the 1960s and ’70s, and then gradually closing in on its nose before moving away.

The People’s Liberation Army’s Southern Theater Command, in a report on China Military Online, had a different interpretation of the encounter, saying it was the US jet that “abruptly changed its flight attitude and forced the Chinese aircraft to the left.”

Looking Ahead to 2023 by Looking Back

Stephen M. Walt

Before I got too far into 2023, I decided to look back to see if 2022 had gone according to my expectations. In my last column of 2021, I described “Biden’s 2022 Foreign-Policy To-Do List.” What did I get right, what did I get wrong, and how well did the Biden administration perform?

1. China and Taiwan. My first prediction—that “we won’t see a serious crisis or military confrontation over Taiwan in 2022”—was correct. Tensions rose slightly in response to outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s ill-advised visit there in August, but cooler heads prevailed and both Beijing and Washington subsequently decided to lower the temperature for the moment. This decision isn’t surprising, as both Beijing and Washington have pretty full plates. Thus far, at least, the Biden administration seems to be getting away with its undeclared economic war on China, but whether its campaign will succeed remains to be seen. U.S. allies in Asia (and Europe) aren’t happy with export controls on advanced chip technology or the protectionist elements of the administration’s broader economic program, and that could be an opportunity for China. Looking ahead, I’m still confident that peace will prevail in East Asia in 2023.

2. Ukraine. I got this one wrong, but only in part. Writing in late December 2021, I predicted Russia would not invade. I wasn’t 100 percent certain, however, and said that if Moscow did invade, I expected it to launch a “limited aims” incursion focused primarily on the Donbas, most likely leading to a “frozen conflict” similar to the situation in Georgia. Why did I think so? Because a limited campaign would be “less likely to provoke a strong and unified response from the West.” A limited incursion would also put President Joe Biden (and NATO) in a “no-win” situation, because there was “little appetite [in the U.S.] for a shooting war in an area far away from the United States and right next door to Russia.” I thought Russian President Vladimir Putin understood that a large-scale invasion would trigger fierce Ukrainian resistance and create a “costly running sore Moscow could ill afford.”

A Russian warlord’s savagery is sending a loud message to Moscow

The line between life and death on the muddy hillocks south of Bakhmut, in eastern Ukraine, is thin. For Yaroslav Hervolsky, a soldier in a Ukrainian evacuation brigade, it can be indistinguishable. For two-and-a-half months now, Mr Hervolsky has headed under artillery fire into the mud to retrieve colleagues, dead or alive. The job has offered little respite. In mid-December a successful Ukrainian surge pushed Russian forces back a kilometre beyond the boundaries of the town. But it made little difference to Mr Hervolsky’s workload, with Ukrainian losses continuing at the level of dozens daily. Now the Russians are attacking again, and the bodies are piling up. “It’s hard to describe the feeling,” he says. “Forty bodies stacked up on top of one another. Diesel, blood and rotting flesh. It’s a fucking mess, and you never know if you will be next.”

The front line near Bakhmut, a small and tired town 70km (43 miles) north of the city of Donetsk, is currently the most fiercely contested section in Ukraine. It offers little justification for the deaths of so many, which have been running at hundreds daily when Russian losses are included. The town has only limited strategic value, offering little but a source of water and a road-transport hub.

An expert's point of view on a current event.

By Blake Herzinger 

Seeking to install the United States as the partner of choice has been a regular feature of Washington’s foreign policy in the Indo-Pacific across multiple administrations. Commonly used in both business and government enterprise but not officially defined, “partner of choice” describes a long-term economic or security relationship with the implication of exclusivity, and, in the case of the U.S. government, it often involves an active effort to diminish the competition for said partnership, pushing out other states courting the partner or actively demanding hostility toward them from the partner. But Washington’s fixation on this implicitly exclusive style of partnership is counterproductive and representative of a flawed approach to the region. Nowhere is this truer than in Southeast Asia.

Washington has far more partners than formal treaty allies in the Indo-Pacific, and even some of its allies have complex defense relationships that involve Washington’s two largest geopolitical competitors, Russia and China, to varying degrees. In Southeast Asia, Singapore, arguably Washington’s closest partner in the area, is not a formal ally of the United States, while two of its treaty allies, Thailand and the Philippines, have spent the last several years holding Washington at arm’s length while they flirted with Beijing. While U.S. President Joe Biden’s Indo-Pacific Economic Framework is a welcome signal of interest, it is woefully thin on details for an administration approaching its midpoint. Washington is largely imagining status as the partner of choice, and if it expects to remain a compelling option for any kind of partnership, it must lead in the areas that matter most to its partners rather than relying primarily on its security relationships.

Many in Washington assume that Indo-Pacific states and multilateral institutions share their view of China as a hostile state, or that they see the United States as a benign power in their region. And it’s certainly true that China’s popularity, per polling from organizations such as the Pew Research Center, has dipped in the region. Beijing’s proximity can make it a sharp concern.

Ukraine Needs Long-Range Firepower for Victory

By Gabriel B. Collins

Ending the war in Ukraine and saving lives requires decisively defeating Russia. But exceedingly difficult decisions lie ahead. Moscow’s campaign of destruction against Ukraine’s energy system weaponizes winter against Ukrainian civilians, seeks to exhaust Ukraine’s air defenses, and sets the stage for a significantly more severe European and global energy crisis in the winter of 2023 and 2024. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s likely goals are to make Ukraine uninhabitable and destabilize European politics through a refugee crisis, break the political will of Ukraine’s military benefactors, and force a cease-fire that allows Russia to retain stolen territory. As a backstop, Russia aims to destroy Ukraine’s infrastructure so thoroughly as to render it an economically failed state ripe for re-invasion after a temporary peace.

Ukraine thus finds itself on the wrong side of a highly consequential law of conflict: The offensive (Russia) has the initiative in altering its strategy and only needs to be right once to inflict massive, potentially existential harm. Kyiv needs a strategic shift in 2023 to save its citizens’ lives and spare the country further destruction by “defending forward,” taking a offensive approach to shield its citizens, but it will be hard pressed to do so without political assent from key NATO parties, especially the United States. The status quo approach favors Russia over time. How, therefore, might American and other NATO decision-makers think about accepting incremental risk in the near term versus deferring a strategy shift decision now and instead accepting future risk?

To start, Russia’s escalatory shift—if successful in retaining seized Ukrainian territories—would very plausibly embolden it for further revisionist actions. This would open pathways to direct NATO-Russia military confrontation that have not yet arisen even in today’s tense environment. Future campaigns of conquest would in many cases leave the United States and its allies with far fewer and much worse options than what they face now. Imagine a future attack on the Suwalki Gap to create a land bridge from Kaliningrad, Russia, to Belarus, for instance.

Tooze on How Low the U.S. Housing Market Could Go in 2023

Cameron Abadi

Very few people—including the most-informed economists—would have predicted the biggest economic events of this past year. They included the energy crisis set off by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the inflation stoked, in part, by China’s continued struggles with the COVID-19 pandemic. But if some economic stories are the product of unforeseeable shocks, others are the result of more legible trends.

FP economics columnist Adam Tooze flagged three such trends on the podcast we co-host, Ones and Tooze: the downturn in U.S. housing, shifts in Japan’s monetary policy, and Africa’s growing struggles with public debt. What follows is an excerpt of our conversation focused on U.S. housing, edited for length and clarity.

Trends That Will Define the Coming Years

By Antonia Colibasanu

The world is always changing, but some changes are more important than others. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will likely be remembered as the start of a new era in geoeconomics. In response to the war, the West launched sanctions against Russia, escalating the economic war the Kremlin began when it blocked Ukraine from trading with the world through its ports. Moscow answered by drastically reducing natural gas exports to Europe. The uncertainty and tit-for-tat measures kicked off an energy crisis. And the war renewed focus on the growing divide between the West and a nascent revisionist bloc led by China and Russia. It is difficult to see a path back to the status quo ante bellum, but several major trends that will define the next decade have become clear.

Protectionism and Global Realignment

For years before COVID-19, China, Russia, Iran and North Korea challenged the economic, financial, security and/or geopolitical order that the United States and its allies created after World War II. The era of relentless globalization had started to slow or even reverse. The pandemic kicked things into overdrive, accelerating reshoring and so-called friendshoring and depriving developing economies of foreign investment.

The war in Ukraine and its economic aftereffects are squeezing developing countries even more. In 2022, most of them put off making a choice between the West and Russia, hoping for a resolution to the conflict that would ease their economic pain. A case in point is Hungary, which, like many of these countries, depends on Russian energy and other commodities to sustain its economy and thus is wary of breaking ties with Moscow. Budapest has sought to slow the progression of Western sanctions against Russia. Others have avoided adopting anti-Russia sanctions altogether.

Why a global recession is inevitable in 2023

By Zanny Minton Beddoes

The editors of the Collins English Dictionary have declared “permacrisis” to be their word of the year for 2022. Defined as an “an extended period of instability and insecurity”, it is an ugly portmanteau that accurately encapsulates today’s world as 2023 dawns. Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has led to the biggest land war in Europe since 1945, the most serious risk of nuclear escalation since the Cuban missile crisis and the most far-reaching sanctions regime since the 1930s. Soaring food and energy costs have fuelled the highest rates of inflation since the 1980s in many countries and the biggest macroeconomic challenge in the modern era of central banking. Assumptions that have held for decades—that borders should be inviolable, nuclear weapons won’t be used, inflation will be low and the lights in rich countries will stay on—have all been simultaneously shaken.

Three shocks have combined to cause this turmoil. The biggest is geopolitical. The American-led post-war world order is being challenged, most obviously by Mr Putin, and most profoundly by the persistently worsening relationship between America and Xi Jinping’s China. The resolve with which America and European countries responded to Russia’s aggression may have revitalised the idea of “the West”, particularly the transatlantic alliance. But it has widened the gap between the West and the rest. The majority of people in the world live in countries that do not support Western sanctions on Russia. Mr Xi openly rejects the universal values upon which the Western order is based. Economic decoupling between the world’s two biggest economies is becoming a reality; a Chinese invasion of Taiwan is no longer implausible. Cracks are also appearing in other longstanding geopolitical certainties, such as the alliance of convenience between America and Saudi Arabia.

Deepfakes and international conflict

Daniel L. Byman, Chongyang Gao, Chris Meserole, and V.S. Subrahmanian


Deceit and media manipulation have always been a part of wartime communications, but never before has it been possible for nearly any actor in a conflict to generate realistic audio, video, and text of their opponent’s political officials and military leaders. As artificial intelligence (AI) grows more sophisticated and the cost of computing continues to drop, the challenge deepfakes pose to online information environments during armed conflict will only grow.

To navigate that challenge, security officials and policymakers need a far greater understanding of how the technology works and the myriad ways it can be used in international armed conflict. Deepfakes can be leveraged for a wide range of purposes, including falsifying orders from military leaders, sowing confusion among the public and armed forces, and lending legitimacy to wars and uprisings. While these tactics can and often will fail, their potential to impact an adversary’s communications and messaging mean that security and intelligence officials will inevitably use them in a wide range of operations.

For policymakers and officials in democratic states, deepfakes pose a particularly difficult challenge. Given the importance of a trusted information environment to democratic societies, democratic governments should generally be wary of deepfakes, which threaten to undermine that trust. Yet security and intelligence officials in the United States and other democracies will nonetheless have strong incentives to deploy deepfakes against their adversaries, particularly in the context of armed conflict. As a result, the U.S. and its democratic allies should consider developing a code of conduct for deepfake use by governments, drawing on existing international norms and precedents.

Breakthroughs and Beyond: Technology advances in 2022 that will shape 2023

Bob Gourley

We live in an incredible exciting time where technology is enabling new business models and new ways of making life better. This report captures some of the advances in 2022. We focused on topics that seem to hold great potential for improving business and government operations in the near term, meaning the next 12 months.

We capture overviews of key breakthroughs in the following domains:Artificial Intelligence
Nuclear Technologies
Space Technologies
Quantum Computing/Quantum Security

Breakthroughs in Artificial Intelligence

The serious pursuit of AI as a computer science discipline began in the summer of 1956 at a workshop on the campus of Dartmouth College. Since then many breakthroughs in sub disciplines of AI have delivered benefits including advancements in computer vision, analytics, machine learning and natural language processing. OODA Loop has reported on advancements of AI since our beginning, and our principals have worked in fields requiring us to closely track developments for decades. In all this time we have seen many areas of dramatic improvements and mission supporting breakthroughs in AI, but nothing like the developments of 2022. The developments of 2022 were primarily in the domain of large language models like those pioneered by Google. One in particular, the GPT-3 model of OpenAI, was leveraged in a solution called ChatGPT. Chat GPT grabbed the attention of the Internet because of its ability to take inputs from humans and deliver results that seemed conversational.

Ukraine 'marshalling' troops for next major offensive: Here's when and where Kyiv could strike

Alessio Dellanna

As Russian strikes against Ukraine continue relentlessly and peace hopes seem to fade, a growing number of experts say the war may soon reach a crucial turning point.

"Ukraine is marshalling and holding back troops and ammunition for a new major attack on Russian positions", said Peter Dickinson, Ukraine analyst at the Atlantic Council.

"They've got to maintain the momentum that they’ve built up: First in September with the capture of the Kharkiv region, and then in November with the liberation of Kherson," he told Euronews.

A new offensive would also be "crucial to maintain the support of the international community and demonstrate that their huge financial and military effort for Ukraine is bringing results".

Europe Reminds the World What Climate Policy Looks Like

Noah J. Gordon

Climate policy garners the most attention when it is linked to older policy fields that political analysts find more interesting and comprehensible. The focus in recent months has been on how discriminatory tax credits for electric cars made in North America, which constitute a small share of the hundreds of billions of dollars of climate and energy spending in the US’ Inflation Reduction Act, are affecting international relations.

Lula Can’t Simply Count on China This Time


On Sunday, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, popularly known as Lula, was once again inaugurated as the president of Brazil after defeating far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro in a tight race. Because Lula’s track record of cooperating with China runs counter to Bolsonaro’s aggressive Sinophobic rhetoric, many anticipate that Lula will bring about a renewed era of Brazil-China relations. China has gestured as much itself, sending a high-level delegation, including Vice President Wang Qishan, to Brazil for the inauguration.

But Lula’s aspirations for Brazil’s relationship to China will need to evolve from his prior presidency from 2003 to 2010. His old set of policies would not be well suited for President Xi Jinping’s China in 2023. The current Brazil-China relationship looks much different than it did during Lula’s first term, with Brazil’s growth in the global commodities trade, China’s shift away from official bilateral loans to engagement in multilateral forums, and increased animosity between Washington and Beijing. To protect Brazilian interests, Lula should maintain a realistic outlook of China’s more constrained financial capacity, engage with China in multilateral settings, and leverage Brazil’s trade strengths.

In his first stint as president, Lula hoped China would be a diplomatic partner in achieving his vision for a more equitable voice for Global South nations. He saw China as an equal to Brazil—two countries on the periphery of Western-dominated institutions. He believed Brazil and China were aligned on an agenda of South-South cooperation, as a way to “construct a new world geography.” Lula was instrumental to the 2006 formation of the group now known as BRICS—the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa that joined together as an alternative to alliances dominated by industrialized Western countries. By the end of Lula’s first presidency, Brazil-China trade had gone from virtually none to almost $60 billion. In 2009, China became Brazil’s top trade partner, and Brazil received a record-size deal of $7 billion from China Development Bank for offshore oil development.

10 Conflicts to Watch in 2023

Comfort Ero and Richard Atwood

Will he, or won’t he? This time last year, that was the question. Russian President Vladimir Putin had massed almost two hundred thousand troops on Ukraine’s borders. U.S. intelligence warned that Russia was preparing for all-out war. All the signs pointed to an assault, bar one: It seemed unthinkable.

True, Russia had attacked Ukraine in 2014, and in the spring of 2021 had staged a dress rehearsal for an invasion, building up forces on the frontier before sending them home. Putin seemed ever angrier at Kyiv’s refusal to bow to his will. He openly derided Ukrainian national identity and sovereignty. Still, it was shocking, when Russian forces did roll in, that a nuclear-armed power in 2022 would seek to conquer a neighbor in an act of unprovoked aggression.

Beyond the devastation in Ukraine, the war has cast a long shadow over global affairs.

For Russia, so far it has been disastrous. An offensive that was supposed to subjugate Ukraine, weaken the West, and strengthen the Kremlin has, up to now, done the opposite. It has turbo-charged Ukrainian nationalism and pushed Kyiv closer to Europe. It has breathed new purpose into a previously adrift NATO. Finland and Sweden joining the alliance, which seems on track, will dramatically shift the balance of force in Northern Europe, more than doubling the length of Russia’s borders with NATO states. The war has laid bare weaknesses in Russia’s military that operations in Syria (2015) and Ukraine (2014 and 2015) had disguised. It has revealed resolve and competence in the West that fiascoes in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya had obscured (though admittedly things might have been different had the United States been under other leadership).

No Water’s Edge: Russia’s Information War and Regime Security



To the extent that any unified theory of Russian information warfare actually exists, its core tenet might well be that regime security has historically been indivisible from information warfare in Russian strategic thought. Rather than an aggressive or expansionist expression of Moscow’s foreign policy, the Kremlin’s so-called information war should primarily be viewed through a domestic and regime security prism—it’s as much a counterinsurgency as an expeditionary strategy, less an escalation than a projection. Analysts and decisionmakers should therefore avoid reflexively casting the United States and the West as Russia’s primary antagonists in its information war, as doing so risks reinforcing these insecurities and exaggerating Moscow’s degree of power in the information ecosystem.


U.S. diplomat George Kennan, in his famous 1947 article “The Sources of Soviet Conduct,” suggested an interesting duality to the idea of information threats to the state—that they serve simultaneously destabilizing and legitimizing functions. Kennan wrote that “it lies in the nature of the mental world of the Soviet leaders, as well as in the character of their ideology, that no opposition to them can be officially recognized as having any merit or justification whatsoever. Such opposition can flow, in theory, only from the hostile and incorrigible forces of dying capitalism.”

Ukraine war’s outlook in 2023: Harder fighting against a tougher Russian army


All sides’ strategic incentives in the Ukraine War point toward continued conflict in 2023. The war’s settlement will emerge from the battlefield, not primarily from negotiations. Russia, meanwhile, is planning another offensive to solidify its territorial position and prepare for another year of war.

Every weapon that the West refrains from sending to Ukraine in the next two months will be regretted in the next six.

In addition, the notion of Russia’s absolute incompetence must be eliminated. No military is perfect, and Russian forces have their problems — but Western analysts are far too optimistic about Russia’s initial failures.
Russian military improvements

Despite coordination and competence issues plaguing Russia’s military, its assault on Kyiv very nearly worked. Russia achieved operational shock, overloading Ukraine’s command-and-control system and converting a coherent military force into disaggregated units. It fixed around half of Ukraine’s military in the eastern Donbas region while achieving strategic surprise with a lightning dash on Kyiv — a shock purchased at the cost of effective planning and coordination at lower command echelons, but surprise nonetheless — and met its key objectives in Ukraine’s south in the first week.

The Shameful Open Secret Behind Southwest’s Failure


Computers become increasingly capable and powerful by the year, and new hardware is often the most visible cue for technological progress. However, even with the shiniest hardware, the software that plays a critical role inside many systems is too often antiquated and, in some cases, decades old.

This failing appears to be a key factor in why Southwest Airlines couldn’t return to business as usual the way other airlines did after last week’s major winter storm. More than 15,000 of its flights were canceled starting on Dec. 22, including more than 2,300 canceled this past Thursday — almost a week after the storm had passed.

It’s been an open secret within Southwest for some time, and a shameful one, that the company desperately needed to modernize its scheduling systems. Software shortcomings contributed to previous, smaller-scale meltdowns, and Southwest unions had repeatedly warned about the software. Without more government regulation and oversight and greater accountability, we may see more fiascos like this one, which most likely stranded hundreds of thousands of Southwest passengers — perhaps more than a million — over Christmas week. And not just for a single company, as the problem is widespread across many industries.

This problem — relying on older or deficient software that needs updating — is known as incurring technical debt, meaning there is a gap between what the software needs to be and what it is. While aging code is a common cause of technical debt in older companies — such as with airlines, which started automating early — it can also be found in newer systems, because software can be written in a rapid and shoddy way, rather than in a more resilient manner that makes it more dependable and easier to fix or expand. As you might expect, quicker is cheaper.

Security Outlook 2023: Cyber Warfare Expands Threats

Drew Robb

After a year that saw massive ransomware attacks and open cyber warfare, the biggest question in cybersecurity for 2023 will likely be how much of those attack techniques get commoditized and weaponized.

“In 2022, governments fought wars online, businesses were affected by multiple ransomware gangs, and regular users’ data was constantly on hackers’ radars,” said NordVPN CTO Marijus Briedis.

2023, he predicted, “will not be any easier when it comes to keeping users’ data safe and private.”

Here, then, are the threats, targets and attack vectors likely to be popular with cyber criminals in the next year — along with the ways that cyber defenses are evolving to thwart those threats.

Wiper Malware, Critical Infrastructure Threats Unleashed by War

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine unleashed a concurrent cyberwar, with wiper malware and threats to critical infrastructure just two of the consequences that have spread to other nations.

"Today, there is no such thing as being a Fighter or Pilot without Intelligence, Cyber and Technology"

Assaf Levanon

Tel Aviv, Dubai, New York, Mumbai, Sydney, Tokyo, Abu Dhabi, and soon even in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The common denominator for all of these and other many large cities in the world is that they are all on the cyber map for the CyTaka World Championship designed for hackers and programmers, and as Doron Amir calls them – Cyber Programmers. Amir founded the CyTaka (World Cyber Championship for Programmers) in 2020 as a means to create the largest cyber community in the world – with prize winning competitions and opportunities to show and upgrade cyber skills competitively and sportingly, and to even leave with prize-money, a high-tech position or prestigious cyber-excellence award.

Amir explains: "The World Cyber Championship for Programmers began as a social project. My intention was to create a new hybrid called a 'Cyber Programmer', who is a cyber expert that comes from the world of programming, without necessarily having any background in cyber or intelligence, and without any connection to any military background. If a programmer can write code that listens to a network printer or computer keyboard – then with the correct direction that code can be converted into various cyber actions. For someone like that, the road to expertise is shorter than for those lacking the background required for more prolonged training within military units such as 8200. Unlike the IDF, we do not produce military cyber, moreover, we focus on civilian cyber that provides an answer to a civilian's modern-day environment. For example, civilians are more concerned about their Tik-Tok or Instagram accounts than Iran's nuclear program".

Defensive vs. offensive AI: Why security teams are losing the AI war

Louis Columbus

Weaponizing artificial intelligence (AI) to attack understaffed enterprises that lack AI and machine learning (ML) expertise is giving bad actors the edge in the ongoing AI cyberwar.

Innovating at faster speeds than the most efficient enterprise, capable of recruiting talent to create new malware and test attack techniques, and using AI to alter attack strategies in real time, threat actors have a significant advantage over most enterprises.

“AI is already being used by criminals to overcome some of the world’s cybersecurity measures,” warns Johan Gerber, executive vice president of security and cyber innovation at MasterCard. “But AI has to be part of our future, of how we attack and address cybersecurity.”

Enterprises are willing to spend on AI-based solutions, evidenced by an AI and cybersecurity forecast from CEPS that they will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.6% from 2020 to 2027 to reach a market value of $46.3 billion by 2027.

Nation-states and cybercriminal gangs share a goal: To weaponize AI

Eighty-eight percent of CISOs and security leaders say that weaponized AI attacks are inevitable, and with good reason. Just 24% of cybersecurity teams are fully prepared to manage an AI-related attack, according to a recent Gartner survey. Nation-states and cybercriminal gangs know that enterprises are understaffed, and that many lack AI and ML expertise and tools to defend against such attacks. In Q3 2022, out of a pool of 53,760 cybersecurity applicants, only 1% had AI skills.

A New Cyber Strategy To Restore Civil-Military Normalcy

Marc Losito

Milton Friedman, the late-Nobel laureate, used the analogy of "a fool in the shower" to describe the scalding consequence of policy overcorrection. When the fool in a shower attempts to reach the proper water temperature, they make repeated minor corrections, expecting immediate change. Hotter water is on the way, but the fool is impatient, thinking each turn of the dial will bring the desired end. The result is foolish overcorrection and scalding consequence making its way through the pipes. Cyber policies in response to the shock of September 11th, the failure to enact the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, and Russia's election meddling portend a potential "fool in the shower" attempting to address the looming threats in the cyber domain. The policy choices in response to these events have unequivocally moved the military closer to cyberwarfare with less oversight by elected civilian leaders, which is a departure from the civil-military norm. Further, these corrections have slowly increased the water temperature over time, and we may already be engaging in cyber warfare without Congress's delegated war power approval.

The Homeland Security Act of 2002

Arguably, the first correction in the modern cyber policy era was the U.S. national security establishment's response to the shock of September 11th. The federal government rightly acknowledged inequities in how the nation was postured to defend its citizens against terrorism and cyber-attacks. The U.S. responded with the Homeland Security Act of 2002, which consolidated 22 diverse agencies and bureaus into the Department of Homeland Security (DHS); the act also established the Homeland Security Council as a statutory component of the National Security Council. The Homeland Security Act of 2002 marked the largest reorganization of the federal government in more than half a century, responding to new, post-Cold War vulnerabilities. Chief among these vulnerabilities were U.S. critical infrastructure sectors with special concern for cyberterrorism and securing cyberspace. Consequently, the Homeland Security Act of 2002 included the addition of a centralized cybersecurity organization within DHS. The National Cyber Security Division (NCSD) was created as an amalgamation of previously existing federal directorates performing disparate functions without coordination or communication.

This open source ChatGPT alternative isn’t for everyone

Luke Hughes

A new text-generating language model, combining Google’s own PaLM model and a technique known as Reinforcement Learning with Human Feedback to create an open source tool that, in theory, can do anything OpenAI's ChatGPT can.

For most, however, this will remain a theory. Unlike ChatGPT, AI developer Philip Wang’s PaLM + RLHF(opens in new tab) doesn’t come trained on any text data required for the model to learn from. Users must compile their own data corpuses and use their own hardware to train the model and process requests.

Text generation models that respond to human inputs, like ChatGPT and PaLM + RLHF, are the latest craze in artificial intelligence. Simply put, they predict the appropriate words after learning semantic patterns from an existing data set, which could consist of anything from ebooks to internet flame wars.
Creating accessible artificial intelligence

Despite PaLM + RLHF arriving pre-trained, the Reinforcement Learning with Human Feedback technique is designed to produce a more intuitive user experience.

Using OpenAI’s GPT To Produce Intelligence Reports At UnrestrictedIntelligence.com

Bob Gourley

The age of continuous crisis has placed incredible demands on intelligence analysts. Automation has not kept up in helping analysts meet the ever expanding demands for quality intelligence. Search tools for the enterprise are supposed to help intelligence analysts, but almost all broken and underperform, especially over unstructured text.

We have been reporting on hopeful new advances that can address some of these challenges. For example, new approaches to Natural Language Processing hold great potential to help (See: What Leaders Need to Know About the State of Natural Language Processing). Watching these developments closely has led us to believe very soon every enterprise will have high end AI based tools to empower their intelligence analysts with the right information for them to do their jobs.

Like the rest of the Internet we have also been evaluating the new OpenAI capabilities like GPT-3 and ChatGPT, which go beyond search to produce results to requests that can seem conversational. We have been participating in dialog with many in the OODA Network on these topics including exchanging prompts and replies from these systems that help show some of the incredible potential of these large language models.

To continue to explore the relevance of these tools to intelligence missions we built a web application designed to leverage the power of GPT-3 to the domain of intelligence analysis. The application is available for use at UnrestrictedIntelligence.com